Published On: Thu, Jun 23rd, 2011

World Tourism Facts


Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who “travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for more than twenty-four (24) hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.

World Tourism Facts

According to the World Bank assessments, tourism today is the largest and most intensively developing world industry.

The World Tourism Organisation announced its conclusion that 2006 was a peak year for world tourism. Numbers of tourists visiting other countries increased by 4.5% against the year 2005 and amounted to 842 million persons. The greatest influx of tourists occurred in South Asia – as compared with 2005, their number increased by 10%. India is the most attractive country for foreign tourists. A notable growth of 8.1% was recorded in Africa . Most foreign tourists visited SAR, Kenya , and Morocco . In Asian-Pacific countries tourist numbers increased by 7.6% and in Europe – by 4%. The leader here was Germany where the World Football Cup was held. Traditionally, many tourists visited Italy and Spain . A similar result was attained by the Middle East tourist industry. In 2006, international tourism to countries of South and North America showed only a 2% growth. Such low indices are due to reduced numbers of tourists to visit Canada and Mexico .

While there were about 700 million tourists in 2000 and 842 million in 2006, their numbers will grow to reach 1.6 billion by the year 2020. In 2000, an event of significance took place. At that point in time, the share of tourism and travel industry amounted to 11% of the global export of commodities and services. Thus, tourism outstripped international foodstuffs, textile, and chemicals trade volumes.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council data, current share of tourism and tourism-related industries is 8.3% of global jobs, 9.3% of international investments, 12% of exports, and 3.6% of world
GDP . Tourists account for 10.2% of the total world consumer expense. In 2005, due to accommodating tourists, world countries earned $680 billion. This indicator was $481 billion in 2000 and $270 billion in 1990.

The World Tourism Organization

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO/OMT) is a specialized agency of the United ‎Nations and the leading international organization in the field of tourism. It serves as a ‎global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.‎

UNWTO plays a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, ‎sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the ‎interests of developing countries.‎

The Organization encourages the implementation ‎of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, with a view to ensuring that member ‎countries, tourist destinations and businesses maximize the positive economic, ‎social and cultural effects of tourism and fully reap its benefits, while minimizing its ‎negative social and environmental impacts.‎

Its membership includes 154 countries, 7 territories and over 400 Affiliate ‎Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations ‎and local tourism authorities.‎

Direct actions that strengthen and support the efforts of National Tourism ‎Administrations are carried out by UNWTO’s regional representatives (Africa, the ‎Americas,  East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and South Asia) based at ‎the Headquarters in Madrid.‎

UNWTO is committed to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, geared ‎toward reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development.‎

About World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day is celebrated annually on 27 September. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in reaching these goals.

World Tourism Day 2011 will be celebrated under the theme Tourism – Linking Cultures, an opportunity to highlight tourism’s role in bringing the cultures of the world together and promoting global understanding through travel (27 September 2011).

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